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  • Attention Shoppers 2010 Will Be Closing in A Few Hours

31st December 2010

Attention Shoppers 2010 Will Be Closing in A Few Hours

Chaotic BoxTwo titles by mobile developer Chaotic Box are available right now for free, thanks to the New Year’s App Blowout. The first game is Pinch n Pop, which is normally priced at $1.99 USD, is a “frantic free-form pinch n popcolor matching fun that challenges both your wits and dexterity. Push, flick, and squeeze the self-replicating Squirms to keep their population under control and maximize your score with color chains and well-timed powerup bursts.”

Pinch n Pop has the following game play features:

– Unique gameplay with zero-g physics.
– Worldwide internet high score rankings.
– Play casually or strategically to beat the high scores.
– Intuitive multi-touch controls

The second Chaotic Box title that is featured on New Year’s App Blowout is Pollywog, which is also normally priced at $1.99 USD. From the game’s description, players “take control of Pauly the Purple Pollywog in the ultimate quest for floating Yum Yums! Dodge obstacles at super speeds, collect time-bending powerups, and blast through levels in this fast paced 2D physics dodge’m racer.pollywog

Tilt your device to dodge obstacles and eat yum yums to get a speed boost. Tap the screen to shoot your water jet and blast obstacles out of the way – but watch out for immovable rocks! Cross the finish line with time to spare and earn awards to unlock increasingly challenging levels. Pollywog requires fast reflexes, memorization, and problem solving skills to achieve that elusive perfect run.”

Pollywog Features:

– Unlock 4 tiers and 19 challenging levels.
– Earn Awards for Skill, Speed, and more.
– Powerups with cool “Bullet Time” effects.
– Fun original soundtrack.

silverfishChaotic Box also has two other products in the app store: flOOid (free), “is a tactile and visual toy for iPhone and iPod touch. Swipe and poke the screen to energize the fluid and interact with flocking critters. Shake the device to cycle through the color themes or enable the color auto-cycle.”

The studio’s latest release is Silverfish, which I told you about on December 8th. Silverfish has been named one of the top apps of the year, getting a 5/5 score from both PCWorld’s GamePro and Yahoo’s Appolicious. Priced at $2.99 USD, Silverfish challenges players to “weave their way through swarms of menacing space bugs and defend themselves with powerful detonations. Silverfish combines pure arcade action with stunning visual effects” and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.rocket radar

Those of you living in Toronto – or visiting the city often, need to get this next app for your iPhone (if you have one). Rocket Radar, which was built using City of Toronto data, will let you know when the next TTC train is scheduled to arrive at your location. Rocket Radar uses real-time GPS tracking to let you “when the next streetcar will arrive with Toronto’s live GPS feed.” This app is currently priced at $1.99 USD and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad with an iOS of 4.0+.

aeroports de montrealStarting this January 1, Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport will offer free Wi-Fi service throughout the entire terminal, including the public area and the restricted areas (international, transborder and domestic). Montréal–Trudeau passengers will be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly from a laptop, smartphone or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device.

To access Aéroports de Montréal’s high-speed AERO WI-FI network, users need simply activate their Web browser and accept the conditions of use that will immediately appear on the screen. Opening a session provides one hour of free navigation. If more time is desired, simply open a new session.

bconnectedHalifax networking expert and networking organization Bconnected President Lynn MacMichael has offered up some advice for those of you looking at improving your networking skills in the coming year.

“All of the strategies I teach about the art and technique of networking are helpful tips for networking events,” explains Lynn. “However, if you don’t attend any networking events, then the tips won’t help!”

“It’s important to attend networking events regularly. Whether you join a group or groups that meet monthly or weekly, you must join networking groups in order to succeed at networkLynn MacMichaeling!”

Lynn explained that some networking groups are free and that some have a cost involved. Some are small groups, and some are large groups. She revealed the “secret” to finding the right networking group: “You must determine which groups have members that are part of your target market.”

Lynn also warns against joining too many networking groups: “If you spread yourself too thin and try to participate in too many, you won’t be able to build successful networking relationships.”

Lynn recommends beginning with the local chamber of commerce and doing an Internet search for networking groups in the area.

“The important thing is to get out there and network,” she insists. “If you don’t join a group, then no matter how many tips for networking events you learn, you won’t have anywhere to use them!”

And for the final words of the last post for 2010 –

May all of you have a very happy, safe, productive and prosperous New Year.

Thank you for joining us in 2010, we hope to see you again in 2011.

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30th December 2010

eBooks Games and Apps To Occupy Your New Year

Ripe AppsRipe Apps has two of their latest iPhone apps on sale. Get GPS and Location-based reminders with Geo Alerts, on sale now for 99 Cents USD. Need a simple to do list with reminders? Pick up Reminders! Simple ToDos and Alerts, which is on sale for $1.99 USD. You may also want to check out their other app, I’m Right Here, which allows you to let your friends know where you are by sending them an email with map image, or SMS a link to same. This app isn’t “on sale” but it is available for the regular low price of 99 Cents USD.tale of the madeus

Dark AcreVancouver developer Dark Acre has just launched a novella for Amazon Kindle titled Tale of the Madeus (The Solarus Cycle) in the first in a series, and is currently available via download for only $1.99 USD. Written in the style of a science fiction space opera, Tale of the Madeus takes place in the Far Vacuum of the Solarus system and follows a series of events which occur between the Oslean Stellar Trade League Transport Vessel ‘Madeus’ and the pirate vessel ‘Staine’, and was written as a supporting background piece for Dark Acre’s game Project Zero Zero, which is currently in development.

Indie developer Celsius Games has announced that there will soon be an update for its inertial survival shooter game Red Nova. It looks like players are in for at least one new mode of transport – or maybe a new enemy, as the image isred nova teaser Celsius Gamesonly showing up as a shadowy blip on the Village Gamer game spotter. Still available for the launch price of 99 Cents USD, Red Nova is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. As the person in control, you have been sent on a mission to test a number of prototype fighters which could be destined to replace the Earth Colonial Fleet’s aging Starhawk. While voyaging across the galaxy in your carrier, the ECS Red Nova, you discover the dastardly deeds of a previously unknown alien fleet as they prepare to stage a sneak attack on Earth’s space colonies. Being the hero that you are, it’s up to you and your crew to save humanity from certain destruction at the hands of these alien foes.

If you want to see the Best of 2010’s Xbox Indie Games included on the dashboard, head over to this article written xona gamesby Matthew Doucette of Xona Games to find out how you can vote on this issue. As a supporter (and purchaser) of our Canadian indie dev-made products, I would like to see the indie games front and centre just like all of the big-budget (and sometimes nowhere near as fun) titles.

Bioware and i09 are offering a sneak preview at who the Illusive Man really is (surprise, he’s not really Martin Sheen). Bioware CorpThis brand new comic from Dark Horse will peel back the layers of secrecy we first got a glimpse at in Mass Effect 2.

According to the comic’s official description, “Mass Effect 2 Lead Writer Mac Walters reveals the origin of our galaxy’s most mysterious powerbroker—The Illusive Man! With co—writer John Jackson Miller (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) and artist Omar Francia (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2), Walters chronicles humanity’s first deadly days on the galactic stage and uncovers the pivotal role The Illusive Man played in it all! Available only in comics, this essential piece of Mass Effect canon offers new insights for existing fans, while the focus on humanity’s first steps into the wider Mass Effect universe provides a riveting story of action and intrigue for sci-fi readers of all stripes!”

Please visit the i09 site for a look at the 5 page Mass Effect Evolution preview.

doritos unlock xboxDoritos®, in partnership with Microsoft, has announced the winner of its Unlock Xbox competition, with Crash Course taking first place. Crash Course was developed by Behaviour Interactive’s Chile studio Wanako from a concept by North Carolinian Jill Robertson. Her game concept was inspired by one of her favourite shows, Wipe Out – and is loads of fun. As the winner, Jill was awarded a $50 000.00 USD game consulting gig with Doritos, but in an unprecedented move, Doritos also awarded $50 000.00 to second place contestant Justin Carpenter of Ogden, Utah. His game concept, Harm’s Way, was also extremely well received – both titles had well over Xblox Live Arcade 2 million downloads between them – and they are both well worth the effort, offering tons of replayability and gaming fun. Both titles are still available for download, and at free, you certainly can’t scoff at the price for so much fun.

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29th December 2010

When Snow Falls and Sheep Float

psychicparrot gamesToday is the final day of PsychicParrot Game’s giveaway for their iPhone title Farm Jump, an Open-Feint farm jumpenabled game that features tilt and lean controls that enable you to capture some cows and jump on floating sheep, helping Farmer Will get his sheep back in their pens. The game also features donkeys, eggs bacon, plus the ability to dress Farmer Will in a variety of costumes.

Play by leaning the device left and right as Farmer Will bounces from sheep to sheep. Look out for roosters. Roosters will help him get higher with a boost. Cows are also Farmer Wills friends, so grab them when you can.

Lawyer Sean Kane, a member of the Intellectual Property practice and a member of the Social PillsburyMedia, Entertainment & Technology team at New York law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, has released a white paper titled A Guide to Business Incentives for Interactive Entertainment Production in Canada (PDF). While many of you may already be well-versed on the various programmes and contacts, I still recommend giving the document a read-through, just to see if it contains new information that may be of use to you or your projects. Mr. Kane has also published a white paper on incentives available in the United States (also PDF), which will definitely be of use for anyone pondering an expansion south of the 49th. **Note – it has been pointed out to me that the White Paper on Canadian Incentives has a few facts wrong in regards to the Canada Media Fund. Please be sure to check with each programme’s guidelines to be certain that you have current and correct information.**

snowseekersIt’s 7 a.m. and your alarm goes off, but it’s not that work alarm that most of us dread. This alarm is powder filled. SnowSeekers is stoked to release a free smartphone app filled with bells and whistles that will make iPhone-using snow seekers everywhere smile. The powder alarm takes feeds from your favorite ski and snowboard resorts and alerts you when your destination(s) of choice receives over five cm of snow overnight – just in time to get you out of bed and into the goods. The BlackBerry and Android versions are scheduled to launch later this month.

Over $150,000 has been invested by SnowSeekers in the past 12 months to bring snow seekers around the globe a smartphone application that unlocks the best of Western Canada’s winter destinations.

“Our focus groups told us they wanted all the bells and whistles in this app and that they wanted it for free. I am snowseekers-whistlerconfident we are delivering on their request,” said SnowSeekers President Jim Barr (aka Doc Pow).

“Last season our first app acted as a digital guidebook. This new 2.0 version is more of a digital concierge. It really takes you by the hand and directs you to where you need to go and what you need to do in order to maximize your time in Western Canada. And that goes for both local and international travellers.”

Major upgrades include:

* The guides are GPS-sensitive, delivering location-based information to the traveler when they are in X destination. It acts as a great pre-planner, too, as you can thumb through any of the destinations before even setting out.
* A digital coupon book filled with discounts, offers, and savings (think of an entertainment book, only digital). Based on what you choose to receive, push notifications that contain exclusive offers are delivered via the app.
* A real-time heat map allows travelers to check into their hot spot of choice. Each destination features a comprehensive list of pubs, clubs, and night spots. “One of the big requests we had from our focus groups was the app should unlock special events and the hot locations in town,” explains Barr. Check-in to the location you are at or the location you are going to be so other travellers can look at the map and know “what’s hot.”
* Comprehensive guidebook listings. “We’ve invested over 800 man hours to develop shopping, accommodations, après, nightlife and dining directories for the 19 destinations represented in the app,” said Barr. Includes Google Maps, descriptions, phone numbers, and web addresses.
* Other features include current weather supplied by The Weather Network, snow conditions, and a digital trail map.

Engine Digital announces the launch of an innovative mobile web strategy for client BC Hydro, featuring a mobile compatible web experience for on-the-go smartphone users. The Engine Digital designed BC Hydro mobile website offers instant access to relevant Power Smart content, safety tips, as well as a GPS-enabled power outage lookup feature. Mobile compatibility of web content is fast becoming a necessity for companies and Engine Digital is leading the pace in mobile web strategy, mobile marketing, and both design and development for the mobile screen.

Utilizing the Mobify platform, Engine Digital was able to integrate the mobile site for BC Hydro with existing web technologies and content, providing a single point of content management across both web and mobile channels. BC Hydro MobileThrough their mobile device, BC Hydro mobile website users are able to determine power outages in their area, including real-time estimates of power recovery. The mobile site caters to smartphone and feature phone users, with a focus on touch-based devices including iPhone and iPod touch, Android, and BlackBerry touch-devices.

With branded utility – brands creating useful experiences for their customers – becoming a common strategy for organizations wishing to create an unfair advantage within their category, many marketers are looking to mobile as the space where utility can be quickly delivered to both a location- and time-aware audience.

“As consumers increasingly access brands on their mobile device, there exists a growing expectation for both content and features to be formatted for the mobile space,” comments Stephen Beck, Partner and Creative Director at Engine Digital. “Pulling up a desktop website or a non-functioning Flash-based website inside of a mobile web browser is a broken brand experience that can result in frustration across the Smartphone user base. For BC Hydro, mobile provides a new opportunity to deliver outage data using location-based services via GPS to both mobile customers and technicians away from their desktop browser.”

The BC Hydro mobile site includes both content and functionality adapted from the corporate website including:

* Outage Data: up-to-date status on power outages available in map or list view format, along with planned outages, restoration history, expected timeline for the restoration of power and the number of households affected.
* Power Smart Green Guides: tips on saving energy and money for home and business through conservation of power.
* Electronics Guides: tips on choosing brands and products designed to conserve energy. Users can search and compare brands, products, and their power smart ratings on mobile devices while they shop.
* Safety Tips: tips for power related safety at home, in the workplace and during outages. In the event of an emergency, users have access to safety information and help contacts.
* Events Calendar: listing of upcoming events hosted by BC Hydro.

TekSystemsTEKsystems Global Services Canada today announced findings from its quarterly IT and Talent Survey among Canadian IT leaders. IT contracting in Canada is on the rise relative to other North American markets, with nearly 50% of Canadian respondents indicating increases in IT project needs and IT hiring over the next six months.

This is in contrast to 41% of the respondents citing the same in the United States. According to Executive Director of TEKsystems’ Montreal Solution Centre, Charlie Hall, “We are seeing a shift in that CIOs seem to be moving toward more variable-based or flexible workforce models to get work done. As we emerge from this recession, our clients are seeking the ability to ramp projects up and down quicker than ever as demands increase.”

Survey data shows IT workers will be in high demand to support the continuous flow of expected project needs moving into 2011. Of the most challenging projects, Enterprise Architecture tops the list with 55.9% of Canadian respondents rating the difficulty a seven or above, on a one to 10 scale. More than half of respondents also rated Business Process Engineering, Business Intelligence, Network Architecture and Database Administration a seven or higher in terms of difficulty to staff and manage. “Limited supply of certain technical professionals is just one factor that makes these projects a challenge for our clients,” shares Hall. “IT leaders are also challenged to find partners that possess applicable industry knowledge, a high degree of business acumen and have the chemistry to fit into their culture,” comments Hall.

Given the increased focus on IT initiatives to drive business value, IT leaders will need to conduct intense and proactive workforce planning exercises to ensure they can support business goals. However, according to the survey, 52.2% of Canadian respondents indicated feeling only “somewhat prepared” to handle an increasingly competitive labor market. “To obtain the right skill sets when and where they need them, many businesses are realizing the value of partnering with an IT services provider that can deliver project-based or outsourcing solutions with an underlying competency in attracting and retaining large numbers of quality IT resources,” said Hall.

IT leaders say they plan to maintain (50%) or increase (36.5%) their current level of IT outsourcing; and nearly 80% of respondents expect to maintain or increase offshore and near-shore IT services moving into 2011. “More often, we’re seeing IT leaders make the decision to outsource based on criteria that extends beyond cost benefits. They are thinking about the degree of complexity they want to maintain versus offload. They are also thinking about which providers can be a true partner, building customized solutions and delivering results through teams of qualified IT professionals,” said Hall.

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28th December 2010

When Zombies and Hungries Attack

footloose gamesFootloose Games has launched an open beta of their new title, Munchies’ Lunch. The munchies lunchCavechild took the game for a spin this morning, and while it only took him about 15 minutes to puzzle his way through the 16 Adventure Mode beta levels, he had nice things to say about the game, including the clean graphics, crystal-clear soundtrack and effects, as well as the ramping difficulty of the puzzles. In Munchies’ Lunch, players must help the Munchies journey across their world, gathering food while avoiding the Hungries, who mirror your moves as you gather food in the crop fields. Use your PC to out-manoeuvre the Hungries and trick them into picking up the red-hot peppers. If you enjoy casual puzzlers, the Cavechild recommends taking the Munchies’ Lunch beta for a spin.

CAPCOMJust in time for the New Year, there is a new case for Dead Rising 2 (at press time, the official DR2 site was not loading). See Frank West and Chuck Greene team up for the first time ever beginning today! Dead Rising 2: Case West brings the intrepid photojournalist and star of the original Dead Rising, together with Dead Rising 2’s Chuck Green as they embark on a brand new case set in the Phenotrans Facility on the outskirts of Fortune City. Set immediately after the events of Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Case West allows players to join up for some serious co-op action to take Dead Rising 2 Case Weston the hoards of zombies. Along with new challenges and new enemies, Chuck and Frank will also have access to new weapons, items and the ability to create a number of new Combo weapons such as the janitor’s favorite, the ‘Zap & Shine’ and the ominous sounding ‘Reaper’.

Wherever he finds himself, Frank is always ready to capture the moment with his trusty camera and Dead Rising 2: Case West is no exception. Frank is able to take photographs of key evidence that will provide indisputable proof of Phenotrans’ part in the zombie outbreaks, not just in Fortune City, but across the United States. As the story unfolds expect to see cameo appearances from other characters from Dead Rising that will provide further links to the original game. If enjoyed as a solo experience, the player will take control of Chuck with Frank’s Dead Rising 2: Case West is now LionHeartavailable on Xbox LIVE for 800 MS Points.

Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons has announced its latest property, atomic cartoonsLionheart, which follows the comedic adventures of Mac and Sir Lionheart of Mane, who, as a decorated member of the Explorers Guild, goes off on daring adventure, often surviving only by the seat of his pants. Often overlooking important details, Lionheart is lucky to have travel companion Mac along, as he tends to keep things somewhat together, at least until the next destination. A mix of adventure and comedy with a nod to classic cartoon styling, Lionheart promises to deliver good “olde time” fun.

koboIt appears that Christmas 2010 was the holiday for eBook sales, with Kobo revealing its Holiday 2010 sales success. With readers around the world receiving new eReaders and iPads and other eReading devices under their tree, Kobo saw over a million people connected to its service, and hundreds of thousands of devices were activated each day since Christmas Eve, fuelling the highest eBook download rate in the company’s history. People around the world chose Kobo this Christmas, with the popular easy-to-use Kobo Wireless eReader, dozens of compatible eReaders, top-rated applications for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and one of the largest catalogues in the world with over 2.2 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines. I also noticed this morning that Kobo has a “First Book” promo offer on – if you’re downloading your first book from the Kobo Store, they give you a promo code for 35% off the purchase price of the title.

“Earlier this month we predicted that Christmas would be a record breaker for Kobo, and we have exceeded our expectations driving several ebook downloads per second since Christmas Eve, or an equivalent number hardcover books stacked as high as 50 Empire State Buildings,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. “I would like to thank our customers for choosing Kobo to start building their digital library this Christmas. Our success this holiday season is a pre-cursor to a New Year with people reading more than ever thanks to eBooks and Kobo.”

Kobo’s holiday growth also included:

* Total registered users nearly doubling from the six weeks prior
* A 50X increase in purchases from previous Holiday weekend last year
* A 5X increase in purchases from the previous biggest weekend (also in December)
* Customer purchases from over 130 countries, with some of the biggest gains outside of US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, occurring in Germany, Netherlands, and Singapore
* A significant increase in device mix, with eReaders and Tablets accounting for the largest percent in sales

Kobo became the first eReading service to launch an eBook gifting and gift card program and for the first time in history, eBooks “arrived” digitally in people’s email accounts this Christmas morning. The top three most popular eBooks gifted this holiday were:

* “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (#2 in Canada)
* “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson (#1 in Canada)
* “Room” by Emma Donahue (#3 in Canada)

Kobo’s recently-announced Kobo Reading Life program, now available on the iPad, marked the industry’s first comprehensive social eReading experience, personalizing eReading and creating a fun, engaging, and meaningful experience. Over 250,000 Reading Life awards have been given out since its recent launch – simply for reading. Tens of thousands were given out this Christmas, including the “Milk and Cookies” award, and the “Holiday Cheer” award for reading on Christmas Eve and Day.

This holiday season, open standards and the ability to read on any device is a consistent theme. With Kobo, customers can to build their lifetime libraries as they choose, and read on multiple devices by downloading a free eReading app. People can also download books for free, borrow and read eBooks from their local library on the Kobo Wireless eReader – and alternatively can read Kobo eBooks on other dedicated eReaders like the Sony eReader and Nook.

RandomHouseAs evidenced by the popularity of eBooks on Kobo, December 25th and 26th were the two biggest ebook sales days ever for Random House, Inc. Combined ebook sales across e-retailers on December 25th and 26th rose more than 300% over last year’s sales for the same two-day period, which had been Random House’s best two-day ebook sales period ever.

Random House, Inc. leading titles from this two-day holiday selling period include Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — with a combined 115,000 units sold in ebook format across e-retailers. Other top Random House, Inc. titles include John Grisham’s The Confession, George Bush’s Decision Points, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

For the first time, Random House also saw a significant sales increase for its children’s picture books available in ebook format, including Go, Dog, Go, a classic children’s book (which was one of the Cavechild’s favourites when he was younger) written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, published by Random House Children’s in 1961.

“We are delighted by the volume of consumers flocking to Random House books across all our e-retailers, and not just to our best-selling titles which are clearly as popular in e as they are in print. Consumers are also using their e-reading devices to discover titles deeper in our list, including David Nicholls’s One Day, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Max Brooks’ World War Z.” said Madeline McIntosh, President of Sales, Digital and Operations, Random House, Inc. The publisher currently has more than 17,000 of its front and backlist titles in ebook format and has been encouraged by the exponential growth in demand for its ebooks across the wide spectrum of the Random House catalogue.

Canadian Short Screenplay CompetitionThe Canadian Short Screenplay Competition, the most prestigious screenwriting competition in Canada, announced earlier today a holiday gift for short filmmakers worldwide in the form of a completion fund for short films looking for that little bit extra to complete the post-production and or marketing of their finished film. The Short Film Fund, described as having no deadline for submissions, will award up to $1,500 cash to up to three successful short film filmmakers per year, until funds are exhausted each calendar year.

The fund is being generously supported by the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition and Year of the Skunk Productions. CSSC founder and producer David Cormican reminds interested filmmakers in putting only their best foot forward. “The fund is highly competitive, very selective and will only invest in the best and most deserving projects “, says Cormican. “We’re looking to support filmmakers with a unique, strong, professional and commercial vision”.

The fund is a first for the CSSC and joins the ranks of Bravo!FACT, National Film Board and the National Screen Institute as being amongst only a handful of private and public organizations financially supporting the making of short films. “Besides, provincial and local funding agencies, short filmmakers don’t really have that many avenues to find money to make their art beyond Bravo!FACT, the NSI and NFB programs. So, we’re happy to be able to help support a few extra projects each year to that same end”, offers Cormican.

While interested filmmakers and producers are asked to limit their number of submissions to two projects per year, they can apply to the fund free of charge through the entirely online submission process available on the CSSC’s website. The Short Film Fund is open effective immediately. Complete Short Film Fund details and guidelines, including the online submission form, can be found online.

GrouponGroupon officially launched in Kelowna just prior to Christmas, and during its first week in town, Groupon’s featured deals included a massage package, a putting course and a coffee shop. Upcoming deals include hair salon services, cooking classes and a local teahouse. Groupon Kelowna joins 20 other Canadian markets currently enjoying Groupon deals.

“With its fine dining, unique shops and vibrant culture, Kelowna is an ideal Groupon market,” said Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer of Groupon. “We look forward to bringing unbeatable deals to Kelowna residents, while driving new streams of revenue to local merchants.”

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24th December 2010

Last Minute Gifts and Santa Tracking

Happy Holidays to all of our readers – Stay safe and we’ll see you on the other side of Christmas. Christmas Orby

OnStarIf you’re on the move with kids today in an OnStar-equipped vehicle and they’re worried about missing Santa, never fear, your OnStar connection will set their minds at ease. OnStar advisors will be prepared to give subscribers specific location-based updates on Santa Claus’ journey around the world based on data received in partnership with NORAD. Individuals without an OnStar subscription can visit NORAD’s Santa Site or dial 877 HI-NORAD (877-446-6723) for Santa’s location (hands-free in BC, please – Santa won’t be looking for you in a ditch).

Beginning at 6 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve, OnStar subscribers can press the blue OnStar button in their vehicles to request a “Santa Update”. OnStar advisors will share Santa’s whereabouts through 5 a.m. EST Christmas morning.

“It’s great to provide our customers with a fun, highly informative benefit during the holidays,” said Scott Kubicki, OnStar, executive director, OnStar Sales, Services and Marketing. “Our advisors also enjoy hearing children’s surprise and joy when they learn that St. Nick is only hours away from their home.”

For more than 54 years NORAD has used its North Warning Radar System, geo-synchronous satellites with infrared sensors and other technologies to monitor Santa’s Christmas Eve travels and share the information with children and families around the world.

“We are excited that OnStar is a NORAD Tracks Santa program sponsor once again this year,” said James Graybeal, deputy chief of staff for communication, Headquarters NORAD and USNORTHCOM. “OnStar adds another layer to the program. In addition to tracking Santa on the web or by calling in to the operations center, it’s neat that you can locate Santa by pushing a button in your car, wherever you are.”noahs ark

homick labsHomick Labs has released Noah’s Matching Ark, a fun and educational application for the iPad and iPhone, geared for children aged 2 and up. Kids will love matching the tiles of the various themes and earning stickers to be placed in their sticker album. According to the app’s information page, there are currently three themes available – matching Animals,  Shapes and Numbers; additional themes are downloadable within the app, and parents can configure the app’s difficulty to match their child’s ability.

This free application is currently available for the iPad only, the iPhone version has a projected release date of January 2011.

gametree mac For the Mac gamers in your life, check out all of the Gift Guide Specials over at GameTree Mac; they have a door crasher sale on for Kung Fu Panda at 35% off, and other titles such as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones and Assassin’s Creed II are available for 10% off. There is a good selection of titles for everyone from kids to adults, including Nancy Drew and Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, with sale prices in effect until January 3rd, 2011.

EA MobileGive the gift of gaming to Android™ device owners this holiday season! EA Mobile™ offers sale prices on a full selection of games for select Android-based mobile phones – perfect for everyone on your gift giving list.Game Of Life

“Expanding our world-class franchises onto the emerging Android marketplace brings our popular, award-winning games to more phones, more carriers and ultimately, more consumers,” said Adam Sussman, Vice President of Worldwide Publishing for EA Mobile. “This lineup brings fun to everyone – from families playing MONOPOLY to sports fans scoring goals with FIFA 10 – no matter where you are.”

The Sims™ 3, Need for Speed™ Shift, FIFA 10 by EA SPORTS™ and Tetris®, as well as MONOPOLY and THE GAME OF LIFE (under license from Hasbro Inc.) are available on the Android platform. Additional upcoming releases include Worms™ and Bejeweled® 2 from PopCap Games. The games can be downloaded directly to an Android phone by visiting EA’s store on the device or on a PC.

Digital LeisureFor those of you visiting us from Europe, you can now grab a copy of Digital Leisure’s Mix Superstar for your Wii. For 500 Wii Points, you can create, mix and record your own royalty-free musical masterpieces right on your Wii™ system. There are over 1,000 Dance,Mix Superstar Hip Hop and Techno loops included across multiple instruments like Drum, Bass, Synth, Guitar and even voice tracks.

Looking to give your mix a unique flare? Over a dozen new music loop packs will be releasing via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play™ to enhance your music creation experience. Thousands of additional loops from packs like Rock, Pop, Latin, House and even World.

Once you’ve got that next hit created, it’s time to show it off. Mix Superstar allows you to export your music creations, and download them to your computer so you can take them on-the-go. You can also use WiiConnect24™ to send those hits to your Wii Friends and even collaborate on mixes. Also included is full support for both the Logitech® USB Microphone and Wii Speak™ so you can lay down your own vocals on that next hit.

Wicked InteractiveMission Against Terror knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and Toronto publisher Wicked Interactive says “that’s why for all you naughty people out there M.A.T. is bringing you some extra-special holiday cheer. From Saturday, December 25 through Monday, December 27, the action will be non-stop and the stakes never higher. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Christmas, M.A.T.-style.”Mission Against Terror

M.A.T. Special Surprise Xmas Events:

· December the 25th, 2010 @ 4:30-6:30 EST – Login Event -> Snowball Grenade (1 Day), Silver Coins +200%, Christmas Hat (1 Day)
· December the 26th, 2010 @ 4:30-6:30 EST – Silver Coins +200%
· December the 27th, 2010 @ 7:30-9:30 EST – Silver Coins +200%

“These events are a perfect complement to the newly unveiled AI Mode,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “Think of them as the ultimate way to test out the AI-controlled robots, the 4 new difficulty settings, the Weapon Casting Machine and all the other goodies that AI mode brings.”

Special prizes will be awarded to those with the highest scores at the end of the weekend. But because Christmas is all about surprises, M.A.T. is keeping those prizes a secret until then.

poyntPoynt Corporation and Yellow Pages Group (YPG) have formed an agreement for YPG to provide Canadian business content to the Poynt mobile local search application for BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 smartphones. The five-year agreement, which includes an annual licensing fee, uses Yellow PagesYPG’s public API (YellowAPI) to grant the Poynt app access to the 1.5 million business listings it currently holds. The partnership provides the Poynt app with mobile banner advertising, through Mediative, a recently launched division of YPG which services national accounts.

“YPG has been a tremendous partner as we have evolved and grown,” said Andrew Osis, CEO of Poynt Corp. “We are pleased to continue this relationship as we continue to provide relevant, compelling data to consumers as they go about their daily lives.”

“Our agreement with Poynt emphasizes the opportunities our content can create for local search apps and how YellowAPI can drive additional visibility to our advertisers through partners such as Poynt,” said Stéphane Marceau, Chief Marketing Officer of Yellow Pages Group.

Poynt recently won RIM’s BlackBerry “Super Apps” Developer Challenge and is one of the leading mobile applications for BlackBerry. Poynt is available for download from m.poynt.com or from the respective smartphone app stores.

Photo ZoomMarin Media Group, located in Concord, ON, is pleased to announce the launch of a new & free online photography magazine called Photo Zoom, a publication designed to entertain and inform both amateur and professional photographers. It will be providing you with industry news, reviews, trends, articles, interviews, tutorials, galleries, competitions, advice and much, much more. PhotoZoom Magazine will also be attentive to the reader’s thoughts, viewpoints, reviews, suggestions, and, most importantly, featuring their photos.

“Photo Zoom is a magazine dedicated to the art of photography. In every issue we will go over the ins & outs, the tricks & tips and everything else that has to do with photography”, says Scott Howard, Editor.

PhotoZoom will be viewed and reviewed by local photo clubs, Universities and Colleges offering photography courses, various online social media sites, and online directories pertaining to photography related companies. Whether you are an amateur using a simple point and shoot camera or a professional who relies on photography as his main source of income, as long as you love this inspirational art form, you will enjoy PhotoZoom magazine.

CanadaPassing along a bulletin from International Trade: the following events to take place in March 2011 in Brazil.  The Canadian Consulate in Sao Paulo will be providing support to any Canadian companies planning to attend. Please contact Fernanda Whitaker, Trade Commissioner for New Media and Cultural Industries at the Canadian Consulate General in Sao Paulo for further information and application forms (or your local in-Canada DFAIT rep may also have the applications available).

Brazil-Canada Coproduction Forum *** March 15-16, 2011 – Rio de Janeiro *** On its 4th edition, this event is designed to allow content producers (digital media/TV/Film) from both countries to understand each other’s business environment, markets and discuss potential opportunities for co-production. The Forum will happen in the margins of the Rio Content Market and will be organized by two local industry associations with full support from the Canadian Consulate. The organizers of the Brazil-Canada Coproduction Forum will invite and pay the expenses for a select group of about 15 Canadian delegates to participate . The deadline for Canadian companies that want to be considered for financial assistance granted by the organizers is January 16th, 2011.

GameWorld 2011 *** March 11-13, 2011 – São Paulo *** Three-day event for the gaming industry, including exhibition and conferences. This event takes place over a weekend and traditionally targets end uses. However, for the 2011 edition, GameWorld organizers will prepare a business forum on Friday, March 11th, with matchmaking activities and one-on-one meetings. The Canadian Consulate in Sao Paulo will work with the event organizers to support any delegates coming from Canada.

Rio Content Market *** March 16-18, 2011 – Rio de Janeiro *** This is a large, Brazilian TV Producers (BTVP) initiative that has gained great support from different levels of the Brazilian Government. Rio Content Market is an international conference and market expected to gather over 500 decision makers to discuss the creation and distribution of digital media and multi-platform content. Guest participants and speakers will be invited from the USA, UK, Canada, Europe and Asia. There will be a large contingence of television/feature film/digital media production, broadcasters, telecom operators, etc.

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23rd December 2010

Track The Jolly Fat Man on Santa GPS

fission mediaFor parents whose children are already asking when Santa Claus is going to arrive, well — ho, ho, ho — there’s an app for that, one that was developed in a workshop at snowy Edmonton Research Park by Fission Media Group Inc. Santa GPS is a free app available on the iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store, and is a fun way for children and parents to interact together with these smart devices.santa gps

The app uses the global positioning capability of the device to calculate and display the distance between the young user and Santa, who until December 24 is busy at his workshop at the North Pole, 4,047 kilometres from downtown Edmonton – and the Edmonton Research Park where Fission Media is housed. It also displays a clock that counts down the days, hours, minutes and, yes, seconds until Christmas.

Turn the device on its side and the display changes into a map showing where the user is in relation to Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, this feature will become a whole lot of fun as children track Santa as he dashes through 550 destinations around the world from the mid-Pacific, through Australasia, Europe, and so on to Edmonton, bringing happiness to good boys and girls everywhere.

Fission Media Group has added some fun interactive features in this year’s upgraded version of Santa GPS, which is now in its second holiday season. There is a blog from Santa that updates the children of the world on happenings at his workshop. Kids can type their gift requests into a Christmas letter to Santa and mail it off the North Pole, while Mom and Dad can help the busy elves up north keep tabs on whether the kids are behaving, with the results displayed on naughty or nice meter for each child.

hallmarkFor Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan, separation from their children and other little loved ones back home can be a painful part of their duty, especially at Christmas time.

Hallmark Canada is helping to bridge that distance with a donation of 2,400 Recordable Storybooks to the Canadian Forces’ annual Operation Santa Claus initiative, which provides gifts to our soldiers serving in Afghanistan during the holiday period. The books contain digital audio recorders that enable parents to Hallmark Recordable Story Booksrecord themselves and send the book back home – then, when children turn the pages, they hear Mom or Dad’s voice reading them the story.

“Nothing can take the place of being home for the holidays, but we can help in at least a virtual way to bring our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan a little closer to their children at Christmas,” said Chris Kelly, Vice President of Consumer Solutions and Brand Experience for Hallmark Canada.

“It’s a special way to help them share their love, even though they’re so far apart.”

And to close off this morning’s news posts, here is a very special Christmas video from Vancouver’s Hothead Games studio.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

note – this video may not be appropriate for family viewing. 😉

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23rd December 2010

Lots and Lots of Sales

Development studio Capybara Games held its first internal 48 hour game jam earlier this week, and they’ve now posted the results on the studio’s blog. Working in teams of 2 or 3, the Capy-devs came up with some very interesting concepts, and the studio said on their blog that there will perhaps be some more playable jam titles available after the holidays.

There are lots of holiday sales from our Canadian developers to take advantage of this season, either as gifts for those who are looking for something new to play:

frima studioFrima’s 2D point-and-click Big Bad Wolfadventure game for puzzle lovers, Big Brain Wolf is part of the 5 game Indie Brain Pack available on Steam until January 3rd 2011 for only $4.99 USD. This crime story takes place in a fairy tale kingdom inhabited by a vegetarian, asthmatic wolf, a bipolar Genie, a chubby Red Riding Hood, a long-nosed lawyer, and a slew of hilarious characters. To clear his mother of the murder charges brought upon her, our lupine friend will have to train his brain through 60 puzzles and riddles.

IUGOIUGO Mobile has also gotten into the spirit of the season, putting all of their great titles on sale for 99 cents USD each until early January. Now’s the time to grab these IUGO hits:IUGO Holiday Sale

Toy Bot Diaries 1,2,3, the Toy Bot Compilation, Spy Bot Chronicles and the Toy Bot Mini Missions
Zombie Attack! and Zombie Attack! Second Wave XL
Shaky Summit
Star Hogs
Implode! XL
Cliffed XL
ESCAPE: Norm’s World
Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet

Celsius GamesCelsius Games’ new title Red Nova, which has rocketed up the iTunes game chart is still available for its special introductory price of 99 cents USD for both the iPhone and iPad versions. This price won’t last forever, so you’d best grab your spaceship now and make your file screen even more festive because Red Nova is red, which puts you 50% closer to decorating everything you own in Christmas colours. kung fu santa

Speaking of holiday colours, you really should pick up Kung Fu Santa by Big Bad Brush and help save Christmas. This highly colourful and simply fun to play title is also available for the low, low price of 99 EA Mobilecents in the App Store.

EA Mobile’s massive library of iOS titles is also on sale for just 99 cents USD per title – this means some huge discounts on some games, so whether you need some last minute gifts or just want them for yourself, now would be the time to be proactive and scoop them up before the sale ends. Death Spank

Deathspank really wants to move in to his own little home on your PC’s hard drive this Christmas, can you spare him a little change? This amusingly inept super hero game from Hothead Games is currently on sale on Steam for 50% off its regular price. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you really should – and then you can continue helping the downtrodden in Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue, which is also currently on sale.

Cshankoincidentally, Klei Entertainment’s vigilante platformer Shank is also on sale, available for the low price of $10.04 USD, so if you feel the urge to help Shank deal with his anger issues by slaughtering the underworld’s deadliest assassins, you should take advantage of this holiday sale.Dead Rising 2

Feel the need to eradicate zombies? Good news for you! Dead Rising 2 for the PC from Blue Castle Games (or Capcom Studios Vancouver, if you prefer) is also on sale at Steam for 50% off the published price. Head to Fortune City and try your luck – don’t forget your Zombrex!

Bioware CorpIf you’ve been living off-planet this year and haven’t yet gotten Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 for your PC, you’re in luck – Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 2 Digital Deluxe Edition are all on sale at Steam as well. Not to be outdone by its studio mate, Dragon Age and all of its ilk are also on sale in the Steam store.

Loud Crow Interactive is giving away promo codes for their interactive iPad books The Tale of Peter Loud Crow InteractiveRabbit and The Night Before Christmas. Head on over to their Facebook page for details on how to grab a code while they’re still available.Doras Christmas Carol

If you’re looking for other great holiday treats to share with youngsters, may I suggest Dora’s Christmas Carol from Budge Studios. It’s not on sale, but you can get it for your iPhone for $2.99 USD or your iPad for $4.99 USD. Guaranteed to be a hit with any Dora fans living in your house.

I could probably spend all day looking for Canadian-made games on sale, but I do have to go to work. I also apparently have to go Christmas shopping, because my daughter is horrified that I haven’t done so yet. A few other great deals currently lurking around on Steam are all of the Company of Heroes and Dawn of War II titles from THQ and Relic Entertainment, plus there’s 150+ indie titles also on sale. If you see a Canadian title on sale somewhere, send me a message on Twitter, and if I have time I will try to get another posting of sale prices and links done before Christmas.

Wicked InteractiveToronto game publisher Wicked Interactive has launched AI Mode, the newest and most challenging level that brings robots and other surprises to the free-to-play shooter Mission Against Terror.

“This is our holiday gift to the massive and awesome M.A.T. community,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “They have been so supportive since the early days of Closed Beta, we felt thisMission Against Terror update is the least we could do.”

What’s New in AI Mode:

· 8 players vs. slew of AI-controlled robots in a war for survival
· 2 new stages (of four) available now
· 4 new difficulty settings
· 4 new scenarios
· Weapon Reward System for completing stages at current difficulty levels
· Weapon Casting Machine, allowing gamers to create weapons from the parts of destroyed robots
· The chance to do battle with the Robot Captain

The National Post has launched its free National PostNational Post Reader App, available now on the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Simple and sophisticated, the National Post Reader App provides a customizable news feed that brings users straight to the day’s breaking news as well as the latest opinion pieces from Canada’s favourite writers and commentators. As with all National Post products, the app features coverage from across the country and around the world, delivered with a distinctly Canadian voice.

“Our readers like to stay up to date on important news, analysis and commentary wherever they are,” said National Post Publisher Douglas Kelly. “The National Post Reader App delivers this to them in a very personal and convenient way on iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.”

Features of the National Post Reader App include:

* Delivery of Top Story content as soon as news breaks
* Quick and easy navigation tools
* The ability to save stories to read later, including when offline
* Social media sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Instapaper, email, and more

Pinewood StudiosPinewood Toronto Studios, Canada’s largest purpose-built film and TV studio complex, will use a $34.5-million financing arrangement to secure the studio’s long-term growth and enhance the City of Toronto’s ability to attract big-budget films and TV projects, as well as help strengthen Toronto’s role as one of the world’s great production centres.

This investment in vital, long-term Ontario film and television infrastructure will support Pinewood Toronto Studios, Ontario’s premier studio complex, in attracting large-scale production work that would not otherwise be drawn to Toronto.

Pinewood Toronto Studios Chairman Paul Bronfman says, “Toronto is one of a handful of truly exceptional production capitals. This repayable loan will benefit every Ontarian, as well as the film and TV industry throughout the city and province. The ripple effect to the broader Ontario economy will be enormous.”

The financing will permit improvements to Pinewood Toronto Studios facilities, strengthening and propelling its ability to attract bigger and more specialized film and television projects. Among the films and TV series shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios over the last two years are: Battle of the Blades, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The Thing, Devil, Dream House and Chloe. The loan, provided by Infrastructure Ontario and facilitated by Build Toronto, was secured by the Pinewood Toronto Studios Board of Directors and received unanimous approval earlier this month.

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22nd December 2010

All Systems Go For Santa

Christmas OrbyDespite a flurry of last-minute activity to make sure all of his Seriously Fun Cargo (SFC) was safely and securely loaded onto his sleigh, Santa Claus and his reindeer are expected to leave the North Pole on time and with all toys on board. Transport Canada is pleased to announce that Santa has passed all his required pre-flight tests and is ready to make his deliveries again this year.Santas Village

As part of his preparations, Santa passed the regular medical tests required by all pilots who want to get and keep their licence. According to Mrs. Claus, Santa put on a few extra pounds while working with his elves on the huge amount of toys requested from boys and girls around the world.

“Santa is a wonderful pilot, and as you may know, he has to pass his medical and flight tests,” said Mrs. Claus. “All those late nights and calories in the workshop were starting to add up, and I was concerned that he wasn’t going to be cleared to fly. But all is well as long as he just says no to the cookies as he makes his rounds.”

Happily, Santa also passed the test to demonstrate his flying ability and knowledge. Like all pilots, he must pass this test using a flight simulator or with a check ride. So this morning, at the Transport Canada hangar at the Ottawa International Airport, Santa Claus successfully completed a series of takeoffs and landings with the help of his very fit reindeer.
santa on google earth
Earlier this month, a Transport Canada inspector travelled to the North Pole to inspect Santa’s sleigh and its safety system. The inspector checked the harnesses, landing gear and, of course, Rudolph’s nose. Santa recently installed some newer technologies for added safety, like his updated instrument panel and GPS, so the inspector checked this equipment, too. Santa was also reminded how important it is for pilots to get some rest and to do detailed pre-flight checks that include looking for ice buildup, and informing all crew and passengers about safety measures.

Now that Santa has passed his medical and flight tests, he is once again ready to take to the skies safely. Millions of children can sleep easy knowing that Santa is fully prepared to make his most important trip of the year this holiday season!

Boys and girls can follow Santa as he makes his way across the planet, through the NORAD Tracks Santa website, as well as through Google Maps and Google Earth, which should be easier now that Santa’s secret Flight Plan (PDF) has Secret Flight Planbeen leaked to the media.

According to the plan, the pilot, Captain S. Claus will be flying a bright red sled-like aircraft powered by nine reindeer. Departing on December 24, the flight has many destinations and its route includes stops at the “homes of all the nice children in the world.”

NAV CANADA would not confirm the authenticity of the flight plan but anonymous sources say that an unusual aircraft will carry a huge cargo of brightly wrapped packages and will fly at a tremendous speed. An intense red light flashes at the aircraft’s nose.

NAV CANADA would not reveal the identity of the pilot but an unnamed NAV CANADA spokesman, speaking to rumours that the pilot is over 1,000 years old, confirmed the findings of the Transport Canada inspector, saying that  “he has excellent vision and superior cognitive skills. In fact, he sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake.”

NAV CANADA will be hard at work on Christmas ensuring that the normal air traffic control, flight information and advisory services are provided for this special flight and all other aircraft – with technical operations and engineering support.

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22nd December 2010

Serious Fun and Serious Learning Now And In The Future

games for changeTwo Canadian-made serious games have made the short list for the 2010 Games For Change favourite social impact games. The titles were nominated to the list via Twitter, Facebook and the Games For Change Google Group. Voting is now open to pick the top favourite. The Canadian titles named to the list are Inside Disaster – The Experience about the Haiti earthquake and Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics.

Inside Disaster – The Experience was produced by PTV Productions in association with TVO. Funding was supplied in part by the Canada Media Fund, Bell Fund, the Canadian International Development Agency and Ontario Media Development Corporation. Inside Disaster was created to challenge “assumptions made about relief work in disaster areas.” Inside Disaster is not a game in the traditional sense – there is no score; instead, this very graphic and to-the-point experience allows you to work within the parametres of a relief helper, and then experience the outcome of any decisions you commit to. Note – this is not a game for sensitive people. The images are graphic and can be disturbing. Please heed the warning on the game’s site.

Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics. Apparently the game isn’t as scary as the name implies. According to its site, the game is “just an interactive game that lets you contribute to science.” Phylo was made with the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, McGill School of Computer Science, McGill Centre for Bioinformatics and the McGill Computational Structural Biology Group.

Discovery Channel Canada has a series of six videos from Popular Science’s: The Future Of…  that looks at innovation in the field of Play. I believe that the videos on Discovery Channel Canada are only viewable via the web for those with a Canadian IP address, so my apologies to our international readers. Here is a link to the show on Discovery.com (US), and a link to Pop Sci’s videos on Discovery.com, which may or may not work for international viewers. These episodes of the show feature information about a mixed reality lets you reach into the computer game and control it with your hands, a smart football that teaches us all how to play sports like the pros, pervasive games take over entire cities and discover siftables: kids’ alphabet blocks on steroids.

Relic EntertainmentTHQ and Relic Entertainment have released a new trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution™, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011. In this latest chapter, which takes place years after the events in Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising™, Retribution allows players to choose their perspective with the first multiple-race single player campaign in the Dawn of War II series. The first race to be revealed is the savage Orks, but no matter which race is chosen players will be taken on an epic journey through each story arc, revealing the answers to many questions left open in previous Dawn of War titles.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

As well as the single player campaign, Retribution will feature new multiplayer units, maps and an entire new playable faction when it ships.

Get Set Games has released Mega Jump for the Android platform. Available free of charge, Mega Jump can be Mega Jump For Androiddownloaded to your Android phone by scanning the game’s QR Get Set Gamescode on the Get Set page.

Mega Jump on Android is compatible with all phones running Android OS 2.0 and up, and “features the same great graphics, hilarious sounds and action-packed gameplay. It also has the same leaderboards and achievements as the iPhone version – thanks to OpenFeint – so you can compete against your friends who have the iPhone version.”

ParetoLogicParetoLogic’s staff has come together once again this holiday season to provide gifts and charity for those in need. The Salvation Army Christmas Angels campaign and the Mustard Seed food bank have both been long-time recipients of ParetoLogic charity activities. This year, staff managed to up their donation levels, to provide happier holidays for those in need.

The Mustard Seed collects non-perishable foodstuffs for the underprivileged, and feeds over 7000 people a month in the Victoria area. To collect food, an extra-large hamper has been a mainstay of the ParetoLogic offices for the holiday season. The 125-litre bin is full to the rim with donations from ParetoLogic employees and their families.

Marlee Wilson, ParetoLogic’s Office Manager and de facto co-ordinator of charities, was optimistic about donations. “I can tell you that we have a full bin and I’m going to drop this off and hopefully we can fill it again before Christmas.”

The Salvation Army Christmas Angels program collects donations of toys and distributes them to children in need. An estimated 6000 children will receive gifts through the Christmas Angels program this winter. Donators are provided a child’s age and gender, and then pick out an appropriate present. The gift is transferred to the child’s parents, so they may give their daughter or son a happy Christmas. ParetoLogic staff donated 33 gifts this year, for children aged between two and 18.

“Mustard Seed is a charity for life, but the Christmas Angels is a charity for the soul. All children deserve a merry Christmas, and we are delighted to help do that,” said Wilson.

Readers of Canada’s national current affairs magazine can now enjoy Maclean’s at their tech-savvy macleansfingertips with the Maclean’s App for iPad, now available on the App Store. The inaugural issue of Maclean’s magazine for iPad features content from Maclean’s Newsmakers 2010 special issue.

Each issue of Maclean’s comes complete with all the news, commentary, photography and columnists that have made the magazine the country’s most indispensable weekly read for more than a century. The content is beautifully rendered for iPad with an array of enhancements that bring the pages to life: embedded video, photo galleries, digital links, a live letters section, issue-at-a-glance and other navigation tools, and also gives readers the ability to save their favourite articles and share them with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

The inaugural Newsmakers 2010 issue features:

• an animated video cover
• dozens of beautiful photos/photo galleries
• video of Justin Bieber performing live
• video montage of newsmakers who passed away in 2010
• our regular columnists: Andrew Coyne, Scott Feschuk, Paul Wells and more

“Maclean’s is dedicated to bringing readers relevant and thought-provoking content on today’s latest technology,” says Maclean’s publisher and editor-in-chief Ken Whyte. “With the new Maclean’s App for iPad, our readers can now enjoy everything they love about Maclean’s from the convenience of iPad.”

While the Maclean’s App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, each downloadable issue is priced at $2.99. Maclean’s 6th annual and biggest-ever Newsmakers edition looks at the year’s winners and whiners, heroes and heartbreakers, sinners and saints. Among them: Newsmaker of the Year Sidney Crosby and other Canadian Olympic heroes; Justin Bieber and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the election of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president; and the exits of Michaëlle Jean, Simon Cowell, Lloyd Robertson and Cathy cartoons; the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners, the many setbacks of Barack Obama, the comeback of Conrad Black—and the triumphant return of Betty White.

ABI researchDriven by North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, online gaming continues its steady growth and the latest purchasable study from American-based ABI Research forecasts revenues of slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. Technology developments will mean new opportunities for connected devices beyond the computer.

The Asia-Pac region, especially China, will be the engine behind much of this growth. However, in China, due to generally lower levels of personal PC ownership, the business models are evolving a little differently. According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, “World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it’s more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’ or server-based games.”

Another difference in Asia is regulation. “In China, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere the rules are more exacting in what they allow. Some games for instance, have had to alter their content: using WoW again as an example, the developers had to remove the virtual blood.”

The increasingly varied and range of connected devices will also permit gaming on more platforms. For example Free, a French broadband and IPTV provider, has partnered with Intel to develop a very advanced set-top box (Freebox Revolution). The STB includes an Intel Atom processor, controller with gyroscopic inputs, Blu-ray player, powerline adapters, Wi-Fi, and a game controller. While these games might be more locally- based for now, they point to the potential for opening this up to multiplayer and MMO gaming.

There are challenges, though. Mobile gaming (eg. on smartphones) could be disruptive. The market is fragmented, with proprietary platforms the rule, posing difficulties for developers trying to serve a number of smaller platforms rather than a few big ones. And the growth of cloud gaming demands more and bigger servers and data centers.

ABI Research’s “Gaming in the Cloud” study examines the casual and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games markets and the potential role for connected consumer electronics. It contains regional revenue forecasts and discusses pressing technical issues and is part of the Digital Living Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 30+ research and advisory services.

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21st December 2010

A Tale of Many Games And Then Some

Game Prototype ChallengeVersion 2 of the Game Prototype Challenge closed yesterday – and this go-round of fast prototyping saw ten entries for the Immortality and Thin Ice theme – a big increase over the number of participants in version 1 of the challenge, which took place in November. I’ve included the list of entries here, but please visit the Game Prototype Challenge Blog for a full run-down on Version 2 plus links for post-mortems and information on Version 3, which will be coming at you in February 2011.

GPCv2 Entries:snowboggan

Snowball Jones and the Last Crusade by Rocket5Studios
Ice Skating Vampires by Kyle Rodgers
Lifetrek by Jason P. Kaplan
Immo and Thic! by Kyle Dwyer
Snowboggan by Chris Kaitila
Phoenix Rising by Regan Chan
Shatterfist by Jon Remedios
Made of Mirrors by Damian Sommer
Main by Vytenis Krukonis
Titan Miners by Dale Wick

gnometechI found out today about another Canadian-made free-to-play MMO game titled Greenwood Faire, which is currently in a publicly-playable alpha release stage. The game is being developed by Toronto-based greenwood faireGnometech Inc.

According to the game’s site, Greenwood Faire is a massive multiplayer social game experience set in and around the small town of Greenwood. Chat with your friends or make new ones. Listen to music in the tavern and play a board game. Play an instrument yourself, or get a medieval band together and put on a show. Learn to create fireworks and wait until nightfall to set them off. All of this and more is possible within the 3D environment of Greenwood Faire. If you would like to read more about the game’s development, check out the feature on Torque Powered.

UbisoftUbisoft has released a patch for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood that solves both the Animus Bug as well as restoring Trophy functionality for PlayStation players. While we do not yet have a final ETA for this patch, we can assure you that it will be coming very soon… all you have to do is apply the patch once it is released (your console should automatically prompt you to do so).

Fixes (MP)

* Sometimes players may remain stuck during matchmaking (game never starts)Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
* In extremely rare occasions, a crash may occur if another player of the same session quits while another player is loading the map at the exact same time
* When joining a session In Manhunt, in the chased team, you may have a sound present during the entire session

Fixes (Singleplayer)

* The player may remain stuck in the present optional (2012), in a spawning loop in Monterigioni, while interacting with the Animus (Animus Bug)
* Using fast travel towards Northern Campagna may result in Ezio getting continuously desynchronized
* Sometimes a bug can occur that prevents the player from unlocking any additional Trophies (Trophy Bug)
* On rare occasion, if the player changes their outfit at the completion of a mission, they will respawn in the same world, being stuck, without any possibility of returning to Rome

A sneak preview for Moderation Town episode three is now out and about; let’s see how our favourite moderators and dealing with real life and the internet

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Canadian Film CentreIn celebration of Black History Month and presented by TD, the Canadian Film Centre and Clement Virgo are pleased to host a special evening at the Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre 8 in conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee to discuss the role of music in his films. A notable writer, director, producer, actor and author who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of black talent in film, Spike Lee is widely regarded as a premiere filmmaker and a forerunner in the ‘do it yourself’ school of filmmaking. His films are often provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions, not only about race, but class and gender identity as well while incorporating a distinctive and powerful use of music. The evening (Tuesday, January 25th 2011,7 – 8:30 p.m.) will combine conversation and film clips to examine the use of music in Lee’s films – from his musical collaborations with his father, Bill Lee, a jazz bassist, to Prince, Stevie Wonder and composer Terence Blanchard. Tickets are $20.00 (all proceeds will go towards the CFC Diversity Scholarship). Tickets can be purchased at www.totix.ca or at the venue on the night of the event.

Government of CanadaSome lucky Canadians will be revelling in a sparkling new smart phone this holiday season, and others will amuse themselves by downloading games and other online applications. But while mobile technologies can be useful and fun, it’s important to recognize their impact on your personal information, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, says.

“A fully-loaded smart phone is like carrying around a tiny little communications satellite, bristling with sensors and antennas,” the Commissioner explains. “It’s constantly sending and receiving data about your activities and your whereabouts. But where is the data going? What is it saying about you? And what is the effect on your privacy?”

In the third quarter of 2010 alone, more than 400 million mobile phones were purchased worldwide, and smart phones accounted for about one-fifth of that market. But, relative to regular cellphones, smart phones are exploding in popularity. While sales of all mobile phones increased by a third from the year before, smart phone sales actually doubled. In fact, industry observers predict that smart phones will comprise the largest share of the mobile phone market by the end of next year.

As these devices gain in popularity and sophistication, more and more applications (or apps) are being developed to run on them. These range from quirky quizzes to handy mapping and navigational programs, diet-tracking tools and social networking sites.

Increasingly, apps are also capitalizing on the capacity of smart phones to reveal their owner’s location. One widely used app, for instance, automatically transmits coupons and other bonuses to the user’s mobile device every time the user patronizes certain establishments.

But just as apps vary in type and quality, so do their privacy policies and practices. From a technical standpoint, there’s little to stop developers from programming apps in a way that enables them to collect, use or share the personal information of users – and often that of their contacts or networks.

Users may never even know this is happening, and might not approve of the practice if they did. Indeed, the inappropriate collection, use or disclosure of personal information could expose people to surreptitious surveillance, or unwanted targeting by unscrupulous marketers or swindlers.

“Smart phones can do a lot of great things for you,” says Commissioner Stoddart. “But when it comes to protecting your personal information, it’s up to you to make the first call.”

Here are some tips for smarter smart phone use this holiday season:

Do your due diligence – Before you download a dazzling new app, check it out. Does it tell you what personal information it collects, and how it will use it? If not, do your own research. Many online forums discuss apps and provide authoritative reviews about important matters, including privacy.

Think it through – Downloading an app may be a snap, but take your time and do a cost-benefit analysis first. Your personal information has real value, which is why app developers, marketers and many others want to get their hands on it. But don’t give it away. Trade it for something worthwhile, including a solid assurance that it will be treated with care.

Keep it safe – If you lose your smart phone, a lot of your personal information can fall into the wrong hands. Make sure you always use a strong password to protect your data. If you give, trade or throw away your smart phone, be sure you first follow the manufacturer’s directions for thoroughly deleting all the data that was on it.

amazonFor those who just haven’t spent enough money this holiday season, Amazon.ca has announced that beginning December 25th and running through January 2nd, customers can take advantage of amazing Boxing Week promotions on everything from electronics and books to home and garden products and men’s watches. Beginning on Christmas Day, customers can explore The Deals Store to find the full list of Boxing Week special promotions. Customers are encouraged to shop early as these offers are only available while supplies last.

“Christmas week is a time that people want to be with family and friends, but still be able to take advantage of post-holiday deals and promotions,” said John Nemeth, director of Amazon.ca. “With incredible savings, thousands of products and free shipping on eligible products, customers can enjoy the best of both worlds by shopping on Amazon.ca from the comfort of their home.”

Customers will find great discounts on a variety of well-known and trusted brands, including Panasonic, Canon, KitchenAid and Garmin. In addition, Amazon.ca offers customers FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders of eligible products of $25 and over.

Please note that product prices and availability of products and deals are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this release was sent. However, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon.ca.

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